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Ten Famous Diamonds in Brief

The famous "Hope Diamond"

One of my favorite jewelry books, Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay, briefly highlights ten famous diamonds at the end of the book.  Always a source of fascination, large diamonds and the stories behind them never cease to incite vagaries of exotic lands, ancient mines and highly decorated maharajahs from centuries past.

To that end, I’d like to share those particular diamonds for today’s post.

Braganza:  1680 carats rough. Brazil circa 1800. Found by convicts; owned by Portuguese kings; at the time said to have been the largest rough ever found. Lost now; might have been a topaz anyway.

For more on the history and origins of the Braganza diamond, these two sites are very informative: Braganza Diamond and Famous Diamonds: The Braganza.

Cullinan I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX:  3,106 carats rough – “the size of half a brick.” Found in South Africa’s Premier mine, 1905. Given to King Edward VII and sent to England in an unregistered parcel. Split into nine major gems and ninety-six smaller brilliants. Largest is Cullinan I, 530 carats and set into the scepter of the British regalia. Kept in the Tower of London.

Largest of its kind: A glass model replica of the Cullinan diamond in its original rough state

Largest of its kind: A glass model replica of the Cullinan diamond in its original rough state

The Daily Mail wrote a detailed article on the Cullinan diamonds earlier in 2012, as they were on display last year in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Another great website that goes into great detail of these historic diamonds is Famous Diamonds.

From Wikipedia:

Name Number of Carats Shape Use
Cullinan I
530.2 carats pear Set in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. It may also be hung as the pendant from the Cullinan II in a brooch.
Cullinan II 317.4 carats rectangular cushion Set in the front of the circlet of the Imperial State Crown. It may also be used together with the Cullinan I as a brooch.
Cullinan III
94.4 carats pear
Originally set in the on the orb at the top of the Crown of Queen Mary. It now hangs from the Cullinan IV in a brooch.
Cullinan IV
63.6 carats square cushion Originally set in the front of the circlet of the Crown of Queen Mary. It now forms part of a brooch together with the Cullinan III.
Cullinan V 18.8 carats heart Set in the center of a brooch forming a part of the stomacher of the diamond and emerald Delhi Durbar Parure.
Cullinan VI 11.5 carats marquise Originally given by Edward VII to Queen Alexandra. After his death she gave this stone to Queen Mary who had it set as a pendant hanging from the diamond and emerald necklace in the Delhi Durbar Parure.
Cullinan VII 8.8 carats marquise It hangs from the brooch containing the Cullinan VIII and forming as part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar Parure.
Cullinan VIII 6.8 carats cushion Set in the center of a brooch forming part of the stomacher of the Delhi Durbar Parure.
Cullinan IX 4.4 carats pear Set as the bezel in a ring.
The Cullinan I - aka the Star of Africa. 530.20 carats.

The Cullinan I – aka the Star of Africa. 530.20 carats.

Royal Sceptre with Star of Africa(The stone can be removed from the Royal Scepter and worn as a pin or pendant.)

Royal Sceptre with Star of Africa
(The stone can be removed from the Royal Scepter and worn as a pin or pendant.)

Elizabeth II's Imperial State Crown of Great Britain

Elizabeth II’s Imperial State Crown of Great Britain

Cullinan III and IV Brooch: The third and fourth largest of the gems - a pear-shaped drop of 94.4 carats (III) and the cushion-shaped 63.3 carat IV - were originally placed by Queen Mary on her new crown in 1911. The stones were most often worn hooked together as a pendant brooch.

Cullinan III and IV Brooch: The third and fourth largest of the gems – a pear-shaped drop of 94.4 carats (III) and the cushion-shaped 63.3 carat IV – were originally placed by Queen Mary on her new crown in 1911. The stones were most often worn hooked together as a pendant brooch.

Cullinan III & IV

Cullinan III & IV

Cullinan VI and VII brooch: Many pieces of Royal jewellery were created to be versatile. As well as the brooch, the 11.5 carat Cullinan VI has been used in a number of pieces including a diadem. Cullinan VIII can be set with the five other numbered Cullnan stones into a radiating platinum mount.

Cullinan VI and VII brooch: Many pieces of Royal jewellery were created to be versatile. As well as the brooch, the 11.5 carat Cullinan VI has been used in a number of pieces including a diadem. Cullinan VIII can be set with the five other numbered Cullnan stones into a radiating platinum mount.

Cullinan V Brooch This heart-shaped stone weighs 18.8 carats and is mounted in a fine radiating platinum web with a scrolling millegrain and pave-set border of brilliant diamonds. The mounting of the jewel was designed to be as adaptable as possible and was most often worn by Queen Mary (and now by The Queen) as a brooch.It also forms the detachable centre section of the diamond and emerald stomacher made for Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911 and has been worn suspended from the Cullinan VIII Brooch

Cullinan V Brooch This heart-shaped stone weighs 18.8 carats and is mounted in a fine radiating platinum web with a scrolling millegrain and pave-set border of brilliant diamonds. The mounting of the jewel was designed to be as adaptable as possible and was most often worn by Queen Mary (and now by The Queen) as a brooch.
It also forms the detachable centre section of the diamond and emerald stomacher made for Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911 and has been worn suspended from the Cullinan VIII Brooch

Cullinan IX The smallest of the nine stones, weighing 4.4 carats, was set into a platinum ring for Queen Mary in 1911. The pear shape is known as a pendeloque and is mounted in an openwork 12-claw setting. It was also inherited by The Queen in 1953.

Cullinan IX The smallest of the nine stones, weighing 4.4 carats, was set into a platinum ring for Queen Mary in 1911. The pear shape is known as a pendeloque and is mounted in an openwork 12-claw setting. It was also inherited by The Queen in 1953.

 

Dresden Green: green fancy, 49.21 carats, pear cut. Possibly Brazil, 1720s. The largest green diamond known. Taken to Moscow after the Second World War. Now back in Dresden’s Green Vault.

Dresden Green

Dresden Green

The diamond in its hat clasp ornament

The diamond in its hat clasp ornament

More on the Dresden Green.

 

Golden Jubilee: yellow fancy, 545.67 carats cut. South Africa, 1990s. The world’s largest faceted diamond. Cut by Gabi Tolkowsky in Antwerp and given to King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand for his golden jubilee in 1996. Previously known as the “Unknown Brown.”

Golden Jubilee Diamond

Golden Jubilee Diamond

More on the Golden Jubilee


Great Mogul280 carats cut. India circa 1600. The biggest diamond found in India, recorded by J. B. Tavernier on India trip. Now lost. Perhaps became the Koh-i-Noor.

More on the Great Mogul

 

Hope: Blue fancy, 44.5 carats cut. India, seventeenth century or before. Owned mostly by kings, bankers, and heiresses. Said to be cursed.

Hope Diamond

Hope Diamond

More on the Hope

 

Koh-i-Noor: 108.93 carats cut. India, circa seventeenth century. Probably involved more scheming and torture than any other diamond. Name means “mountain of light” in Persian. Said to be unlucky if worn by a man, but in England it has been worn only by women: Queen Victoria, Queen Mary, and Queen Elizabeth II. All long-lived.

Koh-i-Noor Diamond

Koh-i-Noor Diamond

diamond_1687370c

More on the Koh-i-Noor

 

Regent: 410 carats rough. Also known as “The Pitt,” after Thomas Pitt, president of Fort Madras. Pitt was accused of stealing the diamond from a poor Indian; Alexander Pope wrote a poem about it. Sold to France and stolen in 1792 with French Crown Jewels. Later discovered in a Paris garret. Once represented two-thirds of the value of France’s Crown Jewels; now in the Louvre.

Regent Diamond

Regent Diamond

More on the Regent

 

Sancy: 55 carats, double-rose cut. Worn in a turban by King Henry III of France after he went bald at twenty-six. Lucky hatpin for King James I of England. Turbulent history; high body count. In the Louvre.

Beau Sancy Diamond

Beau Sancy Diamond

More on the Sancy

 

Star of the South: 128-carat “rose tint” brilliant. Brazil, eighteenth century. Found by a slave who was given her freedom. Owned by the Gaekwar of Baroda, in a Cartier setting. By 2004, Cartier owned it again.

Star of the South Diamond

Star of the South Diamond

More on the Star of the South

 

 

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Jo Ellen Cole
    January 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Back in the early 1990’s I was working as a research librarian at the Gemological Institute of America and found a small article stating that the real weight of the rough Cullinan was 3,160 ct. as opposed to 3,106 ct. The latter weight was for before the carat standard changed. It is consistantly wrongly reported in most articles and books.

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